G Train Disruption Strengthens Case for Pulaski Bridge Bike Lane

Brooklyn and Queens residents walk over the shared path on the Pulaski Bridge yesterday at 3:30 p.m. With the G train out of service for over a week, North Brooklynites relied on the crowded path to access the 7 train. During rush hours, the crowding was worse. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Over the past week, the long G train outage caused by flooding from Hurricane Sandy brought the need for changes to the Pulaski Bridge into starker relief. Streetsblog received multiple reports of extreme crowding on the bridge’s narrow bike and pedestrian path, which could have been relieved with a protected bikeway across the bridge.

Crowded conditions on the Pulaski Bridge’s shared path have long been an issue, and recently Assembly Member Joseph Lentol announced his support for adding a protected bikeway across the bridge to provide more space for cyclists and pedestrians.

200 bikes locked up within one block of the Vernon Boulevard - Jackson Avenue subway station in Long Island City. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

A temporary bikeway would have been especially useful in Sandy’s wake, when the city and the MTA set up temporary bus routes across the Manhattan Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge, but failed to provide substitute bus service for straphangers who rely on the G train.

Without the train or a backup in place, North Brooklyn residents had to find different ways to get around, and many chose to bike or walk over the Pulaski Bridge to catch the 7 train to Manhattan. Conditions on the bridge path were crowded, especially during rush hours but during off-peak times as well.

Evidence of the spike in bike-to-7-train commuting was abundant at Long Island City’s bike racks. Clarence Eckerson of Streetfilms counted 200 bikes locked up within a block of the Vernon Boulevard – Jackson Avenue station yesterday afternoon — many more than usual.

The G train resumed limited service this morning, but crowding on the path is likely to remain. A protected bike lane on the bridge was needed before Hurricane Sandy, during the G train suspension, and will be needed after the subway system returns to normal.

UPDATE: Assembly Member Joseph Lentol told Streetsblog that the G train disruption showed why a Pulaski Bridge bike lane is necessary. His office has only gotten positive feedback on the proposal since it was floated in October. “I expected to get outraged motorists complaining about taking a lane on the bridge, but I haven’t gotten that at all,” Lentol said, adding that he will soon follow up on his October letter to Commissioner Sadik-Khan with a phone call. “You always have the bureaucratic naysaysers who say why you can’t do it,” Lentol said. “I know they have the expertise to come up with a solution.” Lentol added that he plans to reach out to Assembly Member Catherine Nolan, who represents the Queens side of the bridge.